Thursday, April 28, 2011

Returning To Shamanism

So, I'm watching Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News (I know, I know...that was my first mistake), and he's talking about the terrible tornado outbreak down South. For part of the report he brings in a meteorologist from the Weather Channel (I think it was Greg Forbes) to discuss the matter from, I presumed, a scientific point of view. Williams begins by asking the good doctor "What have we done to cause all of this?"

To the scientist's credit he attempted to remind Mr. Williams about what happens whenever cool dry air slams into warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico (you know, what we generally call here in the United States spring.) But really the question didn't seem to be seeking a scientific explanation of this rare but certainly not unprecedented outbreak. Williams' question seemed to be in search of an intermediary that could inform us of the best ways to appease the proud and angry god who had decided to smote us for our folly.

Simply put, it wasn't the sort of question an intelligent person asks of a scientist. It is the sort of beseeching with which one would expect a befuddled villager to confront a shaman.

Maybe we are entering a new dark age after all.

A Message To Everyone On Earth: With All Due Respect, Screw Your Delicate Sensibilities

Meet the straw that broke this camel's back: Pub singer's 'racism' arrest over Kung Fu Fighting performance

A pub singer has been arrested on suspicion of racial harassment after singing King Fu Fighting in front of two Chinese people.

Simon Ledger says he fears he will end up with a criminal record for performing the 1974 disco classic at a seafront bar on the Isle of Wight on Sunday after two people walking past apparently took offence.

The 34-year-old, from the island, regularly features Carl Douglas’s 1974 number one hit in his set when he performs at the Driftwood Beach Bar in Sandown.

But after striking up the melody in front of customers at the weekend he noticed a man of Chinese origin walking past with his mother, making gestures at him and taking a picture on his mobile phone.

He said that he later received a telephone call from police - while he was dining in a Chinese restaurant - asking him to meet officers about the incident.

He was then arrested and questioned before being bailed.

You know what? I've had it with this bullshit. Someone say something you find offensive? Well, welcome to the real world where things are tough all over. If you don't want to be a "victim" then stop play-acting the part. If you want to confront something you find offensive then learn how to construct a logical argument and write a goddam op-ed.

What began as merely sickeningly annoying "woe is me and my kind" shtick has now become a serious threat to human freedom and dignity (well, as much dignity as one can muster singing "Kung Fu Fighting".)

So to all you "sensitive" types in the world out there, you can stick your "feelings" where the sun don't shine. Freedom is a hell of a lot more important.

Of course, you could try growing up and becoming an adult, or is that just crazy talk?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Could There Be A Possible Justification?

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how the Federal government has the right to dictate to a private manufacturer what state they are allowed to operate a factory within. I'm practically fracturing my skull when I learn the stated rationale given by the Feds is they prefer the laws (and presumably the lawmakers writing those laws) of one state more than those in the other state.

I mean I realize this is the sort of thing Stalin could have mandated, but I thought we were not going there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What Science Is. What It Isn't.

It is a simple rule of thumb anyone can use to figure out if you are dealing with a person or organization interested in doing real science OR if they are only interested in running some sort of public relations scam: Do they own up to their mistakes? Those interested in science do, all the others do not.

So, let's say you see that some organization has made a claim that by a certain date there would be 50 million "climate refugees" around the world. Let us further say that date was 2010 and that census figures indicate the actual number of climate refugees to be, oh, right around zero. If one were interested in science would one:

A) Openly acknowledge the weakness of your prediction and seek to identify the factors which led your hypothesis to be so wildly inaccurate; OR

B) Attempt to remove any evidence of your ever having made the, now, ridiculous prediction in the first place.

See if you can guess which route the United Nations Environment Programme decided to take.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And Teachers Wonder Why People Think They Are Morons

Good grief: Chicago school bans some lunches brought from home
Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!"

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria. Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices...

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

"While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments," Monique Bond wrote in an email. "In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom."
[emphasis added]

The principal is not "encouraging choices" of any kind. (Only in the Orwellian world of modern education could banning everything but what the state allows be called an exercise in choice.) The principal is dictating what these children are eating pure and simple. Like every other tyrant since the beginning of time they try to disguise their dictatorial impulses as being all benevolent intentions and sunshine. In reality it is merely thuggish and masks a real contempt not only for the children but also their parents.


Related: See my take on the "idea" of "Food Justice."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

[irony]Oh, Thank Goodness [/irony]

Conspiracy theorists of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but MY sanity! Prosser's huge gain comes after Waukesha County flub is caught
David Prosser gained 7,582 votes in Waukesha County, after a major counting error of Brookfield results was detected, County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced in a stunning development this afternoon. Nickolaus says the reason for the big change is that data transmitted from the City of Brookfield was imported but that she failed to save those results to the database. Brookfield cast 14,315 votes on April 5 -- 10,859 of those votes went to Prosser and 3,456 went to JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Great. What could be better than a never ending round of "stolen election!" crapola. But then again, Democrats always tell us election fraud isn't a problem. Maybe this will be accepted without a peep, right?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Political Scientist! A Political Scientist! My Kingdom For A Political Scientist!

Given we are basically a dime-a-dozen breed you would think folks would make use of us (or our work) a bit more often. Whoever Wins, WI Supreme Court Election Shows Big Labor Less Formidible [sic] Than Expected
Last night, the movement to save America and the states from corruption and insolvency may have suffered a setback in Wisconsin. Prosser has a razor-thin lead, but almost all the outstanding votes are in Kloppenburg counties, and for whatever reason, Democrats seem to usually benefit from recounts.... On paper, the reformers were severely disadvantaged. Both candidates agreed to run on only $300,000 in public financing, meaning they could not directly operate on the scale this election required. The unions’ well-established political organizations, compounded by likely-stronger recall petition teams that they were able to re-purpose, looked to be an enormous advantage... Big labor should have been far more excited and mobilized than the reformers. Non-public-safety public employee unions’ ability to function in Wisconsin is at stake if the Budget Repair Bill sticks. Special interests with tangible benefits at stake are generally far more motivated to act than taxpayers as a whole, whose losses are less direct and less apparent. In national elections, when every political machine is firing on all cylinders, there are many competing sources of excitement, but in special elections, concentrated interests usually have an advantage. In retrospect, Wisconsin, with its recall provisions and upcoming key judicial election, was an especially tough venue for a battle between the interests of the many and the interests of the few. Despite all these disadvantages, and regardless of who ultimately prevails in this election, the reformers fought big labor to a virtual draw.
This is all well and good, however, it ignores a basic component of reality. Prosser was an incumbent. Even in such unfashionable areas of modern politics as state supreme court elections incumbents have built in advantages. Indeed, state supreme court justices enjoy more of a boost from incumbency than governors (85% rate of reelection for supremes, 81% for governors.) Add that to the fact pro-Prosser forces substantially outspent pro-Kloppenburg forces on media buys (who only managed to spend 62% of what the pro-Prosser groups did), and I think it would be foolish of anyone to think this shows weakness on the part of the Democrats. Indeed, that is a big part of my problem with Walker and Company. They are acting as if the win they enjoyed in November means the Wisconsin electorate has fundamentally transformed itself. There is no indication this is the case. None. Actually, Walker is acting exactly like Obama did after the 2008 election. It was a stupid thing to do when a Democrat did it, and its still a stupid thing when a Republican does it.